IN CONVERSATION - RESTRICT // DALEL BACRE, DORIAN NUSKIND-ODER & SIMON GRENIER-POIRIER, TINA WANG & TINGYING MA
An unlikely setting for the soon-to-be displaced. During the final program of Volume VII: On Resistance, artists come together through modes of restriction. On TCS’ In Conversation, we gather RESTRICT artists Dalel Bacre // arte NÓMADA, Dorian Nuskind-Oder & Simon Grenier-Poirier, and Tina Wang & Tingying Ma to talk resistance in their own words. Read on to learn more.
the CURRENT SESSIONS (TCS): We’re starting with a big question, let’s dive in. What you consider your role(s) to be in life, as an artist, as person?
Ting Wang & Tingying Ma (TW & TM): Deliberate abstinence from roles. To prevent these roles from becoming seductive.
Dalel Bacre (DB): The talent I have been given as an artist is a responsibility. It’s the way in which I communicate to others, and be the best version of self.
Dorian Nuskind-Oder & Simon Grenier-Poirier (DNO & SGP): Being in conversation.
TCS: Now a little more on influences: Have there been any people or experiences that encouraged the work you’ll be presenting at Volume VII: On Resistance?
DB: One night, my friend Chino and I put materials on a table and started to create the wrestling mask that I use in the performance, they're a part of our culture and Mexican folklore. In addition, I've developed my own movement language called “Intoeing,” which moves through improvisation to create scenic moments. Another influence is Freddy Mercury, as I studied his physicality for many years, the way he approached his body at every instant on and off stage.
DNO & SGP: This work was developed during a research residency at fabrikPotsdam, a choreographic center in Potsdam, Germany. We arrived in Germany with an interest in exploring ideas of exchange and competition. During the residency, we became interested in table tennis, a sport that is not particularly well known in North America, but very popular in Germany. We observed players in local parks, athletic clubs and bars. The speed and intensity of play, as well as the game’s historical links to diplomacy and cultural exchange caught our attention. So, we decided to work with competitive ping-pong players to develop a choreographic score that subverts the traditional competitive structure of a match.
TW & TM : Studies #4 belongs to the dance cycle Studies I have been developing with performer Tina Wang and dramaturg Kang Kang since Spring 2016. The initial research on Qi-gong derived from multiple office hours with anthropologist Michael Taussig at Columbia University, where the discussion was centered on Agamben's biopolitics of domination and resistance. Early influences also include Marc Auge, Sally Smart, and Hito Steyerl's lecture On Documenting (truth and politics). The work has kept evolving and has its own agenda that varies from the different installments. Overall, the pieces are deliberately fragmented in order for the hidden, the coded, and the damaged to emerge from the original historical archive of modern Qi-gong.
TCS: How do the ideas in your work connect to the word or meaning of “resistance”?
DB: Resisting a moment, energetically and physically. The mask that I am using is a tool to resist and to provoke at the same time.
DNO & SGP: Another important influence for this work is Buckminster Fuller’s use of the word “trim tab”. A trim tab is a small flap on the rudder of a ship, whose tiny movements can be used to turn very large vessels. The term was employed by Fuller to describe how a small action or change can exert enough force to re-orient the trajectory of institutions. In the same spirit, we are curious to see how shifts in attention or intention can create a resistant force which alters the way a system functions. In the case of Speed Glue, re-orienting the rules of play shifts the players’ and the audience’s attention away from a binary competition (the production of a winner and a loser) and towards an open-ended act of cooperation (the creation of a performance event).
TW & TM : The “pure and endless mediality” (Agamben) of human beings and the notion of “fever” (or "modern charisma” as defined by Ellen Hertz) constitute my belief in the practice of choreography as a means to activate an alternative knowledge of resistance.
TCS: Thoughts on presenting work on a proscenium stage versus in an art gallery or in public? What do you think about the “4th wall”?
DB: Many times the energy of the performer fails to touch the spectator if there are thoughts of the 4th wall. If it is not believed, there is more space to fill and many ways in which we can reach them!
DNO & SGP: Every presenting situation comes with its own set of codes and cultural assumptions. Part of our work is to consider those codes and decide how we would like to work with or push against them.
TW & TM : In Studies I’m mostly concerned with dislocation, erasion, and their witness.
Previously practiced in theatre and trained in accordance with the proscenium viewing tradition, I am allergic to the public ritual that has its perimeters outspokenly emphasizing this hierarchy. Most of the time, theatre doesn't free the subject from its viewing habit, and most of the time further stiffens the mechanism of interpretation.
In dealing with the site-specific nature of this piece, I find performing on the street is to perform an alternative.
A previously existing desire now seeks its affirmation. No alternation leads to further coded demand for an affirmation, no affirmation again leads to movement, then the dance begins. In this case, what happens on the street always deviates from what’s given and what’s possible.
Performing in an open space is the making of the body and making of the public. The relaxed and discursive mode of attention on the street necessitates the determination of its re-arrival. The efforts to gain license of intimacy, occupation, alienation and communication are made through exercising the impossibility of staying neutral. So far, performing on the street offers the kind of witnessing that I’m looking for, where law and order are suspended, where the performing part and the part being performed to are revolving in a togetherness made possible by the centrifugal force of the gaze.
TCS: Last one… We want to know: What does the dance-performance-visual arts-arts world need more of? Less of?
DB: Directing the right energy, neither more nor less.
DNO & SGP: More time, less production. More cooperation, less individualism.
TW & TM : Less surface maintenance, more attempts of evacuation.
TCS: Thanks for taking the time. Looking forward to seeing how your works unfold in the space and with our audience!
RESTRICT is the final program of the CURRENT SESSIONS’ Volume VII: On Resistance, taking place Sunday, August 20 at 7pm. See the full schedule and get tickets here.
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